The Metro

Heliopoli_Full_EX115Riding the monorail in Heliopoli is a giddy experience. One floats — not above — but alongside the city; and the car in which you ride, with its crystal-clear windows and swept-back seats, glides so silently and smoothly that you are not distracted from enjoying the views of the Sun Disk, the Central Plaza, the Botanical Geodesic, the Museum of Futoria, and any of the other wondrous sights that sparkle in the bright sunshine.

But aside from the monorail and the pedways and the unipeds, there is another form of transportation in the city that, while not overlooked, is regarded in opposition to the monorail, for it is below ground and does not observe the weather, and the views from it are most times the strobic ticking of passing tube lights.

Riding the Metro of Heliopoli is a timeless experience. When you observe two people on the station platform shake hands, it is not clear whether they are greeting or saying goodbye. The train that speeds toward you on one side is identical to the one rushing away from you on the other. It does not matter what the weather is above ground; it is always the same in the Metro.

Each station enjoys slight variations in design from the other, but the elements of design are consistent, as are the well-lit cars, the rush of air from the tube tunnel as a train arrives, the tones of greeting as the doors slide open, the hum of the rails, the sussurant warble of voices echoing from the archways, and the smooth translation from one point to another, so that it seems that every station is the same, and each is only distinguished by the pylons that, though they are located in the same positions, have written on them your destination. At some point it will appear that riding from one station to another takes no time at all.

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It is said that some ride the Metro not to go to a specific destination, but only for the experience of riding it. In this way, they are not using it to visit another location, but are visiting the Metro itself. It is said that using the Metro in this way is a meditative experience; the riders enter a fugue state — visiting many stations, riding many trains — until all sense of traveling is lost, and the center of the city is no longer the Sun Disk in the Central Plaza, but rather this station, and then this one, this waylay and that one, so that you are not on your way to here, but are already there.

Riding the Metro of Heliopoli is a comforting experience, but also somewhat frightening. One can get out of the weather into a cool, dry environment, familiar from past experience. There is safety in the Metro. One enters, however, an underground world, a Campbellian cave that will transform you once you have descended the escalator and then ascended back into the light. It is always the same in the underground world, but the world of the surface is always different once you leave a station — and so, perhaps, are you.

Are you coming? Are you going? These questions have no meaning in the Metro.

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